OK, so my recent post missed Invisible Disability Awareness Week by a month.
And this one is missing Volunteers Week by a few days. Fortunately I have the catch-all excuse, “I have Multiple Sclerosis”. It’s brilliant, I can blame anything on it. From dropped cups, forgotten names, through jumbled words, random spasms, people rammed with my funky wheelchair to nodding off and snoring, it’s MS… Oh golly, we’re so lucky…
I don’t know how long this blog is going to be, because all I really want to say is a huge thank you to volunteers everywhere! In August, twelve amazing, hardy souls are swimming from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight to raise money for two wonderful charities, https://shift.ms/ and the https://www.mstrust.org.uk/. They’ll be accompanied by volunteers in kayaks. The swimmers deserve huge plaudits of course but they’ll get all the credit. Maybe the guys and gals in kayaks can sneak into the pics…
In July, with my all but useless lower body, one good arm and my trusty wheelchair, I’m going to be hauled around a 5km ‘Urban Tough Mudder’ by friends and colleagues at upUgo.com, again in aid of Shift.ms. More details here https://www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/Mark-Webb33 . There’ll be race marshals, first aiders, who knows what else? And I’ll get all the kudos for basically being a smiling, wheezy sack of potatoes… Here’s a fake photo of me in preparation.
But that’s all the exciting stuff. Fundraising, sporting endeavours, personal challenges overcome. Necessary and amazing. What I really wanted to shout about are those totally unsung volunteers who keep my world and that of so many others running. From the team at the marvellous https://www.chilternsmscentre.org/ who operate the pressured oxygen chamber I use whenever I can to give my MS body some R&R; to the kindly souls who visit us when we are at risk of becoming institutionalised in hospital; to the gazillions of people who do so much unsung work for thousands of charities. Day in, day out… (that’s the bit that leaves me awestruck)
Which brings me to the current bunch of lovely, lovely people who help keep our Bournemouth Wheelchair Rugby mob happy and rolling. Here’s Lindsey, who rushed direct from her 20th (!) Race for Life in the morning to referee us, a bunch of competitive, sweaty scumbags bashing the hell out of each other and (just occasionally) trying to pull a fast one.
I’m not singling Lindsey out, all our volunteers are precious and a lovely bunch. But none of the others came to our training session looking quite so ridiculous. Or so knackered.
Some day I will blog about empathy. I’ve always tried to be one of the good guys through life. But I think I really only learned true empathy through my disability and those I came into contact with because of it.
Volunteers, whatever you are up to, however you are doing it, whoever you are doing it for, you rock. You are just unbelievable with your generosity of spirit. And dubious refereeing decisions.
A massive prize, or perhaps an emoji, to anyone who spots the Zulu reference.